Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Pug
Average Cost to keep/care for a Pug
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Pug remains one of the most popular breeds to own, not only here in the UK, but elsewhere in the world and for good reason. Pugs may be small in stature, but they have big personalities and are extremely intelligent little dogs. They are confident by nature with an affectionate and mischievous side to their natures that endears them to just about everyone they meet. They adapt well to family life and other lifestyles which are just some of the reasons they have remained just as popular today as they were centuries ago. Pugs are incredibly people-oriented and hate it when left on their own for any length of time, but once you've shared a home with a Pug, there'll be no going back.
Pugs have been around for a very long time with records of them dating back to 700 BC in Ancient China where they were bred and owned by Emperors. The common people were not allowed to own a Pug and if one of these treasured dogs was found in their possession, the punishment was death. Pugs were so revered at the time, they even lived in their own part of a royal palace and were attended on by their own servants too. Female Pugs were given the same status as an Emperor’s wife and guarded by soldiers, only being fed the best of everything.
Although the exact origins of Pugs remain unknown, they are considered one of the most ancient breeds on the planet. Originating in Ancient China where only Emperors could own a Pug, these little dogs found their way over to Europe when China allowed Dutch explorers to trade in their lands. It is said that sailors smuggled these little dogs out of China and once back home, they were an immediate hit with the nobility and upper classes due to their small size and sweet natures.
Pugs were first seen in England in the 17th Century with records of William III owning one. They became the "official dog" of Dutch royalty around the same time before gaining popularity in other European countries including Spain, France and Italy. At the time, Pugs were different to the dogs we see today because they had longer faces and legs. They remained popular throughout the 18th Century, but they fell out of favour for a short time after that.
In 1860, a new type of Pug was imported from China and these dogs boasted shorter noses and shorter legs. Their "pug noses" were an immediate hit with Queen Victoria and very soon the breed was once again popular with many royals. It was Queen Victoria who banned people from cropping a Pug's ears because she deemed it cruel. During the 20th Century, it was the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who once again bought the breed into the limelight, taking their pets with them wherever they went.
The breed fell out of favour again for a short while during the 20th Century, but today Pugs are among one of the most popular breeds on the planet which can be put down to the fact one of these adorable looking little dogs played the part of "Frank the Alien" in the Hollywood movie, Men in Black.
Height at the withers: Males 25.4 - 35.56 cm, Females 25.4 - 35.56 cm
Average Weight: Males 6.3 - 8.1 kg, Females 6.3 - 8.1 kg
Pugs are compact, robust and well-proportioned if not slightly square looking little dogs. However, their heads are quite big in relation to their bodies and they are round with short, snubbed black noses which are quite large in relation to the size of their heads. Their defining physical features are their expressive, large, dark eyes and the adorable wrinkles around their faces.
A Pug's ears are small and they feel like velvet to the touch. There are two kinds which are the Button Ear and Rose Ear. Their mouths are very slightly undershot which adds to their overall appeal. They hold their strong and thick necks slightly arched which gives the Pug their proud look.
Their forequarters are robust, well-muscled and strong with nicely sloping shoulders. A Pug's body is very cobby looking and broad in the chest with ribs being well-sprung and they boast a level topline. Their hindquarters are strong and well-muscled and Pugs boast strong looking and well-developed back legs. Feet are tidy and neat with well-defined toes and black nails. A Pug's tail is tightly curled and set high and double curls are looked on favourably as a breed standard. Their bodies should have well-defined hard muscles which should not be confused with a Pug being overweight.
When it comes to coat, a Pug has a short, glossy, smooth and fine coat with a well-defined black line that runs all the way down their backs. They also boast a nice dark mask and their markings in their coats are well defined. These markings should always be as dark as possible which includes any moles a dog's has on their cheeks, diamonds on their foreheads or thumb marks found on their bodies.
Acceptable coat colours for Pugs include the following:
Colours are clearly defined so that contrasting colours on a dog's face and other parts of the body are evident. Their markings should be nicely defined and muzzles, ears as well as the moles on a dog's cheeks and the diamond or thumb mark on their foreheads and trace should be as black as possible.
Pugs are compact, strong dogs and when they move it is with purpose, having a true "action" when seen from the front and the side. Their front legs move strongly and their back legs move freely with feet always facing forward. Pugs show a slight roll in their hindquarters which is typical of the breed, but this should never be exaggerated.
Any exaggeration in a Pug's build and conformation is frowned upon and considered as being a fault in the breed by the Kennel Club.
It is also important for male Pugs should have two testicles fully descended into their scrotums.
Pugs are renowned for their kind, sweet natures which is why they have remained such popular companions throughout the centuries. Some people say that sharing a home with a Pug is more like living with a small child than a dog, which is especially true when it comes to their need for attention. Pugs are ultra-sociable and they thrive on being around people. They do not do well when left on their own for longer periods of time. If they are left to their own devices for hours on end, Pugs can become a little destructive around the home through sheer boredom and because they develop separation anxiety.
Being highly intelligent, Pugs also need to quite a bit of training and it's important to handle them gently yet firmly because they can be mischievous and naughty at times. It would be fair to say that Pugs need more time spent on their training than a lot of other breeds just for this reason. It's also worth bearing in mind that these little dogs remain extremely puppy-like throughout their lives which is why they are such great fun to have around.
The breed is known to be extremely friendly even when they are around people they don't know. Another nice trait is that although they are very affectionate, Pugs are not clingy although they do like to be with the people they love, but when they have been given enough attention, a Pug will quite happily go off and do their own thing. Pugs need to know their place in the "pack" and who is the alpha dog or they might show a more dominant side to their characters which is something to be avoided at all costs in any breed because it can make life for both a dog and their owner a lot less enjoyable.
A well socialised and trained Pug is a joy to have around and they thoroughly enjoy being the centre of attention loving nothing more than to play the clown. There is a downside to sharing a home with a Pug puppy though and this is that they can be notoriously difficult to house train.
Pugs are a great choice for first time dog owners providing they have lots of time to spend with their canine companions. Pugs form strong ties with their owners and never like to be left on their own for too long. It can also take time and patience to house train a Pug puppy with some dogs taking months to learn where to do their “business”.
Pugs are feisty by nature and although they will give chase to the cat from next door, they do not have high prey drives preferring to get on with everyone because they are so social by nature.
Pugs are known to be real clowns and love entertaining their owners. Being the centre of attention makes these little dogs very happy. They adore playing interactive games and will spend as much time clowning around with their families as they can. They are known to be quite child-like and remain so well into their mature years.
Pugs are highly adaptable and do just as well living in an apartment as they would when living in a house providing they are given plenty of mental stimulation and daily exercise. Pugs need a lot of mental stimulation and they enjoy playing interactive games indoors which means investing in some good quality, robust toys.
Pugs form strong bonds with their families. They like being involved in things that go on in the home although they are not known to be clingy. With this said, it would be very unkind to leave a Pug on their own for any length of time because they are so people-oriented and if they do find themselves alone, it can lead to a Pug suffering from separation anxiety which often sees a dog developing unwanted destructive behaviours. When this happens, a dog might start barking excessively too which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling.
Pugs have funny voices and are not known to be overly vocal although some of them are barkers and others are much quieter. They are intelligent and can be taught not to bark for no reason, but this needs to be done without being too hard on a young Pug which could end up with them being timid and shy. Most Pugs develop barking issues when they are unhappy at being left on their own or when they have not been correctly socialised at a young age. A Pug that's not been socialised is more likely to get over excited when they meet anyone for the first time or when they find themselves in unfamiliar situations and environments. This typically ends up with them expressing their feelings through excessive barking.
Pugs do like swimming and will instinctively take to water when the weather is warm. However, a dog must never be thrown in because it would just scare them. It would also be a mistake to put a puppy or a young pup in water unless it is bath time that is. It's best to wait until your Pug is that much older and to avoid letting them swim in pools because of the chemicals used in them. Because of their short noses, care should be taken when a Pug goes swimming because water can easily get up their noses which can cause them all sorts of breathing problems.
Pugs are intelligent little dogs however, they do boast a bit of a stubborn streak in them which means it takes a firm, yet gentle hand when it comes to training them. It is also essential for owners to be consistent and always fair, because Pugs are quite sensitive by nature even if they are stubborn at times. Rules and boundaries must be established early when living with a Pug and they need to be taught their place in the "pack" and who is alpha dog in a household to prevent them from developing any unruly, dominant behaviours that would prove hard to correct.
Pugs respond well to positive reinforcement and will not do well if they are handled roughly. They do not answer well to harsh training methods either and the same can be said of how they are told off. If this is done too harshly it could have an adverse effect on a dog rather than a positive outcome. Pugs are renowned for testing boundaries and limits which means being firm and consistent throughout a dog’s life remembering that it’s in a Pug's nature to see how much they can get away with before being told off.
Pugs are renowned for their genuine love of children. They are robust little dogs that enjoy being around kids even when playtime gets a bit on the rough side. However, as with any other breed, it's always best to supervise children when they are around dogs to make sure things stay calm and that things don't get too boisterous which could end up with a child or a Pug being frightened or hurt.
Pugs are also known to be good when they are around other pets and animals which includes cats. They rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards other dogs or pets which is another reason why they are so popular the world over as family pets and companions. However, as with any other breed, Pug puppies need to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing and well-rounded mature dogs that take everything in their stride.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Pug is between 12 - 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Because Pugs have a relatively small gene pool the breed is known to suffer from quite a few hereditary health issues some of which are quite serious. These include the following:
Because Pugs have remained so popular and therefore in high demand, the breed's health is of the utmost importance. A responsible, well established breeder would do their utmost to ensure that all their breeding dogs are sound and healthy so that any offspring they produce are less likely of inheriting hereditary or congenital disorders the breed is known to suffer from.
Pugs are known to like their food and in some dogs, this is a little too much. Overfeeding a Pug can lead to obesity which could shorten their lives by several years. An overweight Pug would be less playful, they would be more reluctant to go out for walks which in short means the quality of their lives can also be negatively impacted too. A Pug should always be fed a good quality balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs at the different stages of their lives and treats should be kept to a minimum and only given as the occasional food reward.
Some Pugs suffer from allergies and finding the cause can often prove challenging. A good way of helping establish just what might be triggering a dog's complaint is to keep a journal noting down what your Pug eats. In the spring when plants and flowers are starting to bloom, it’s important to make a note of when your dog shows any signs of experiencing an allergic reaction. The more information you can give the vet, the easier it would be for them to establish just what is triggering an allergy in your Pug, but this could still take quite a bit of time, trial and a lot of effort.
Because Pugs are prone to suffering from certain eye issues, it's essential for owners to regularly check their pet's eyes and to treat a problem early. A Pug's eyes should be gently wiped clean if there is a slight discharge using a soft, damp cloth. If there is a lot of discharge and a Pug's eyes look irritated and inflamed, it is time for a trip to the vet. The earlier a diagnosis and treatment can be set in place the better.
Any time a Pug looks off colour and they are not acting like their normal selves, the earlier they are examined by a vet the better because most health concerns when caught in their early stages are that much easier to treat and the outcome is therefore a lot more positive for a dog.
Pug owners can take part in the Hemivertebrae Scheme which all responsible and well-established breeders have joined to ensure their Pug puppies are less likely to develop this debilitating disease. By having stud dogs, both male and female, X-rayed before they are used for breeding purposes reduces the chances of parent dogs passing the condition on to their offspring. The scheme is one that is recognised by the Kennel Club.
It is worth noting that Pug Breed Clubs in the UK, recommend that owners and breeders always ask their vet's advice prior to having Pug's undergo X-ray tests.
A dam must only whelp 4 litters and as such no puppies can be registered with the Kennel Club if they are from any further litters a dam produces. A dam that produces 2 litters in any 12-month period would be frowned upon by the Kennel Club because the recommended time between litters should be 12 months. Any breeder who produces more than 4 litters a year must be licensed by their local authorities.
A female Pug's age also plays an important role as to whether she should be used for breeding purposes. Dogs over the age of 8 or under 12 months old should not be used for breeding purposes. Other restrictions apply which can be found on the Kennel Club website.
Merle Pugs are no longer recognised by the Kennel Club. As such, they cannot be registered whether a puppy was born in the UK or abroad. The reason being the merle gene carries a greater risk of Pugs suffering from sight issues and impaired hearing.
Looked after correctly, Pugs are pretty low-maintenance little dogs. As with any other breed, they need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. It's important to keep the wrinkles around the faces nice and clean to avoid any sores developing. They also need to be given regular daily exercise so they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, Pugs need to be fed a good quality well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Getting a Pug puppy into a routine from the word go helps them through what can be a stressful and anxious time. The routine means feeding a puppy at the same time of the day and establishing a daily grooming schedule which helps reinforce the bond between owner and puppy.
Puppies should have already been wormed by the breeder prior to them being rehomed and their mother should have also been regularly wormed prior to her giving birth so that she does not pass on any intestinal worms to her offspring. The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
Pug puppies can be quite boisterous, but care should always be taken making sure that playtime never gets too rough. It's also important for their new environment to be safe for them to roam around in which includes both indoors and outside in the garden. Puppy proofing a home and a garden can take a bit of thought and time which is why it should be done well before a puppy arrives home.
Puppies also need to have a quiet corner where they can relax and sleep because they need to take lots of naps throughout the day. Puppies can sleep for anything up to 21 hours a day. Their bed or crate should be away from too much traffic, but somewhere that is not too out of the way so you can keep an eye and ear on them. It's also important for puppies not to feel they are on their own and although they might not be able to see people, they should be able to hear there is someone around during the day when they are napping.
Getting the home ready for when a Pug puppy arrives means sourcing some good quality items for them. It's a good idea to restrict the amount of space a small puppy's can run around in so they don't get under anyone's feet which could at best end up scaring them or at worst, a puppy might get injured should someone accidentally step on them. The items you'll need to invest in are as follows:
A lot of Pugs don't like having their paws touched, so it is very important to teach a puppy that this is nothing to be afraid of. Playing with their paws, ears and touching their tails and nails, helps get a Pug puppy used to things so that when nails need trimming, it never becomes a dreaded task because your dog gets so stressed out.
It's also a good idea to get a puppy used to having their teeth brushed which needs to be done firmly yet very gently to begin with. They will still have their puppy teeth, but getting them used to the routine will make things a lot easier when they grow their adult teeth which would need brushing every day to prevent dental issues from flaring up.
A lot of Pug puppies find it hard to settle at night when they first arrive in their new homes and the best way to get them to go to sleep, is to make sure they are extra tired before they are put to bed. If they still won't settle, it is best to leave them alone rather than go to them every time they whimper, unless of course you think they sound as if they have got themselves into trouble. Settling a puppy into their new environment can be a little stressful, but by setting up a routine can help them through the process.
Puppies should only be gently exercised because their joints and bones are still developing. They should never be given too much strenuous exercise which could result in them developing serious health issues later in life. Pug puppies, like all puppies have bursts of energy in between lots of sleeping which puppies need to recuperate and grow. A puppy will sleep a lot more than a mature, adult dog and can easily snooze for anything up to 21 hours a day.
Well established, reputable breeders always give new owners a sheet showing what they have been feeding their puppies and the frequency of their meal times and it is important to keep to this to avoid any digestive problems. Changing a puppy's diet should only be done gradually over a period of 4 weeks and if they do develop a tummy upset, to go back to their original diet before asking the advice of a vet or the breeder.
Pug puppies are full of energy and when they play, they play hard before collapsing and going to sleep again. They need to be fed a high quality, nutritious diet that meets all their needs so they have the energy to play and enough left over to promote good growth. Puppies need to be fed several times a day which is typically 4 times in a 24-hour period. When they reach 4 months they can be fed 3 meals a day and this can continue right up to when they are 6 months of age. After that they can be fed twice a day for the remainder of their lives unless a vet advises otherwise.
It is essential to feed a puppy at the same times every day and to make sure their meal times are evenly spread out so that they don't develop hypoglycemia, a condition where a puppy's blood sugar levels drop rapidly which can make a puppy very ill.
Like all puppies, Pugs are not fond of too much noise more especially when they first arrive in a new environment. It is important not to have the TV on too loud and not to play music too loudly either because a young puppy would find this overwhelming and it would stress them out.
One of the things a new dog owner should do is find out where their local veterinary surgery is and to introduce themselves so that if a problem arises with a puppy, they can be taken to the surgery as soon as possible so they be examined. It is also crucial to keep veterinary appointments so a dog’s remaining vaccinations can be done and so that a puppy can be given a health check-up to make sure no health issues are flaring up.
Pugs enjoy long life spans more especially if they have been well cared for with some dogs even living well into their late teens. As they reach their golden years, a Pug's coat will start to have grey hairs running through it more especially around their faces and muzzles. Their coats can become thinner too and many older Pugs develop problems with their teeth and may even have lost some of them.
Older Pugs get stiffer on their legs and more especially on their back ones which is often a lot more evident first thing in the morning after they have been asleep all night. With this said, older Pugs need more in the way of special care and attention. Their nails might need trimming more often because they are less active. Their hearing and their vision might not be as good as it once was which needs to be taken into account when living with an older Pug and their appetite might change too. Very often female Pugs put on weight in their senior years, whereas their male counterparts drop weight.
The other thing to bear in mind is that older Pugs need a lot more sleep than younger dogs and their walks should be shorter too. Older dogs in general settle right down, they are quieter although they are often less tolerant and as patient as they once were especially when they are around younger dogs. Some older Pugs can become a little more clingy around their owners too.
If there is one thing that Pugs enjoy, it's being groomed because they love the one to one attention it involves. Being heavy shedders, Pugs need to be brushed every day and it not only strengths a bond between owner and dog, but it keeps their coat and skin in tip top condition too.
If you are about to get a Pug puppy, it's important to start grooming them as soon as possible so they get used to the brush and all the other tools you would use to keep their coats looking good. You should also teach a puppy to have their nails touched which means that when and if they do need trimming, you would be able to trim their nails without any drama or stress.
One thing that's worth noting is that fawn coloured Pugs have double coats, but a dog with a black coat only has a single coat with the other difference being their hair is a little finer too. As with all other breeds, Pugs shed more during the Spring and then again in the Autumn which is when more frequent brushing helps keep shed hair under control. Females also tend to shed more when they about to come into season which is also worth making a note of if you share your home with an unneutered female Pug. It is also a good idea to groom Pugs out of doors when they moult the most to prevent too much hair being left around the home.
When it comes to bathing a Pug, this might need to be done on the odd occasion and ideally it should be when the weather is warmer so that a dog does not catch a chill. Pugs in general enjoy being bathed, but hate it when they get their feet wet when out on a walk. You also need to make sure a Pug is thoroughly dried after having been given a bath, paying special attention to the wrinkles around their faces. If any moisture is left in the folds, it provides the perfect environment for bacteria to take hold which could lead to painful sores and runs the risk of an infection flaring up.
As previously mentioned Pug puppies should not be given too much exercise because it could have serious consequences on their well-being. Puppies are still growing and developing and as such only need to be given a little exercise to avoid having too much pressure put on their joints and backs. Pug puppies should not be allowed to run up and down stairs or jump up on furniture. They should always be lifted into a car too. Being allowed to run around and play in a garden is all that a puppy would really need in the early stages of their lives.
Mature dogs don't need a lot of exercise, but Pugs need to be taken out for a brisk walk at least twice a day for 20 or so minutes each time. With this said, if you have a secure garden, there's nothing these little dogs enjoy more than spending as much time as they can out in it when you are at home and the weather is fine.
Care should be taken during the hotter weather because a Pug can easily get overheated not just when they are out on a walk, but also if they lie in the sun for too long. During the summer, it's best to take a Pug out for a walk early in the morning and then later in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky and the temperature has dropped to reduce the risk of them overheating.
A lot of Pugs don't particularly like going out when it's raining or cold outside and will refuse to take a step outdoors when the weather is bad which means you might have to gently coax them out to do their "business" when they need to. It's also important to invest in a nice warm coat for a Pug because they are not particularly fond of the cold either. If it is very wet and windy, it's best to just take them out for a really short walk because weather conditions like this can seriously hurt a Pug's eyes. It's also important to keep an eye on their breathing when they are out on a walk to make sure they are not straining to catch their breath which could lead to them overheating.
However, it's important for Pugs to be given enough exercise otherwise they will happily turn into couch potatoes which means they would end up putting on too much weight, a problem that Pugs are prone to suffer from and carrying too much weight can seriously affect a dog’s health and wellbeing.
If you have just got a Pug puppy from a breeder, they would have provided you with feeding instructions so they are fed the same amount of food at the same time of the day which helps avoid any digestive upsets. The breeder would also recommend a puppy be fed the same type of food to begin with for the same reason.
Puppies need to be fed more frequently than adult dogs, and ideally this needs to be either 3 or 4 times a day. You can change a puppy's diet gradually over a period of a few weeks, but you should do this very carefully always making sure they don't suffer any tummy upset in the process. Once a Pug is around 4 months old, you can cut their meal times down to 3 a day remembering to give the same amount of food a day only split into three instead of four. At 6 months, puppies can safely be fed twice a day.
Older Pugs should be fed a good quality, well-balanced diet to suit their ages making sure it contains the correct levels of nutrients to meet a dog's needs. Some Pugs are fed three times a day throughout their entire lives, but it is more usual to feed two meals a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening.
Pugs are not generally fussy eaters and in fact, quite the opposite is true because some dogs tend to like their food a little too much which means keeping an eye on a dog's weight and to always make sure they are getting enough exercise to burn off any excess calories. Obesity in Pugs is a real problem and could end up not only shortening their lives considerably, but it would make moving around a lot harder so that going out for a walk is quite painful for a dog to do. Ideally, an adult Pug should be fed a smaller meal in the morning and then a larger meal in the afternoon or early evening. As a rough guide the amount of food a mature, adult Pug should be fed daily is as follows:
If you are looking to buy a Pug, you would need to pay anything from £500 to £1500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year old Pug if you live in the north of England would be £22.01 a month for basic cover, but the premium rises to £40.81 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of March 2016). An insurance company factors in quite a few things when calculating a pet's premium and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and their breed.
When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry for your dog throughout their lives and it must be one that suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30-£40 per month. On top of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Pug and this includes their initial vaccinations, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which can quickly add up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Pug would be between £60 and £80 a month depending on the level of pet insurance you opt to get for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred pedigree Pug puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been microchipped.
When buying a Pug, the size of a dog as stated by the Kennel Club Breed Standard is a guide only and is given as being the ideal for the breed. As such, a Chihuahua could be smaller or larger and may weigh slightly more or less than the given size in their breed standard.
With Pugs there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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